Heads up on health for women 40 and over

I am sharing health tips to women in their 40s, by one, Jenny Blake. Women in their forties are very active, often working and raising families, with little time to take care of themselves. At this point in a woman’s life, making good health choices will keep her looking and feeling good, and can prevent the onset of many chronic type diseases. The forties are a good time for women to re-evaluate their diet and exercise choices and get a thorough check up from the doctor. Making a few simple changes now can immediately improve a woman’s health and prepare her body for menopause and future decades of life.

When a woman enters her forties, calcium becomes a vital nutrient needed for strong bones and osteoporosis prevention. When menopause begins, usually a bit later in the forties, bone loss increases dramatically, increasing the need for calcium. Find calcium in orange juice, broccoli and low fat cheese. It’s optimal to get 1,000 mg. per day. Try having 8 oz. of yogurt, twice a day, which contains around 400 mg. In order to absorb the calcium, Vitamin D is needed in conjunction with the calcium. Women can get the recommended 5 mcg. of Vitamin D from a 3 oz. can of tuna packed in oil, or from a glass or two of milk. Magnesium is also important to a woman in her forties. Magnesium will help maintain the immune system and regulate blood pressure, and works with calcium and vitamin D to make bones strong as well.

The forties are also a good time for a woman to visit her doctor and plan for any important health tests. It’s well known that women in their forties should have breast exams. Along with regular breast exams, now is the time to start having mammograms. These should be performed regularly as well, as recommended by your doctor. At age 45, many women have a fasting blood sugar test for diabetes. Years of eating fattening, sugary foods can wreak havoc with blood sugar. Treatment for blood sugar issues are very successful when found early. During the forties many women stop seeing their gynecologist as regularly as they should. As long as a woman is sexually active, she should continue with regular Pap smears and pelvic exams.

Years of spending time in the sun may have caused damage to the skin. A doctor should check for unusual, changing, or new moles and any unusual marks or bumps. Women in their forties should continue to wear sunscreen to prevent future skin damage. The forties are also a good time to revamp any fitness routines, or if a woman doesn’t exercise, now is the time to start. Women in their forties need to build strength and muscle in order to counteract the effect of bone loss. Lifting weights, Pilates and yoga can all build muscle tone, and are easier on the body than high impact exercise.

Aerobics are an important part of the exercise equation for women in their forties as well. Aerobics will help maintain cardiovascular health, circulation, and help build muscle. Thirty minutes of exercise a day, utilising aerobics and strength training, provides the best benefit to women in their forties. The ability to get enough sleep is an additional health issue for women during this decade. Menopause can cause sleepless nights, night sweats and palpitations. However, getting a good night’s sleep now is as important as ever. Make sleeping easier by avoiding caffeine and exercise late in the day. Taking supplements or prescribed medications for hot flashes may alleviate some or all of menopause symptoms and provide a better nights sleep. Eight hours of sleep a day is recommended, however busy schedules usually make that difficult for many women. Women in their forties need to make sleep a priority for optimum health and performance.

Menopause, bone and muscle loss, and fatigue are all health issues women in their forties face. It’s important for women in their forties to take time for themselves and plan for healthy choices. Proper health management now means better health later as we age. The forties are a fun decade, so enjoy it being healthy and happy.

The Fabulous Forties column is for all readers: readers in their forties;  readers who were in their forties and who care to remember what it was like; and those readers still looking ahead to their forties and would like a foretaste. Contact: maggiemzumara@yahoo.ie

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